CEOL - OSCE slams HDZ over Bosnia Croat candidates

SARAJEVO, Dec 22, 1999 -- (Reuters) Western peace coordinators criticized Croatia's ruling HDZ party on Tuesday for picking three candidates in next month's parliamentary election who have been barred from holding office in Bosnia.

"These persons have already demonstrated their unsuitability for election to office in Bosnia-Herzegovina," said a spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Bosnia.

Krunsolav Kordic, Mijo Tokic and Stjepan Mikic are members of the Bosnian branch of the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) and have been listed as candidates in Croatia's January 3 parliamentary election for seats reserved for expatriates.

All three were removed from posts in Bosnia in 1998 and 1999 and barred from future office by Western envoys who accused them of obstructing the 1995 Dayton peace treaty.

"These nominations do nothing to foster the belief that the HDZ are supportive of the Dayton peace accords - to which the Republic of Croatia is of course a signatory," OSCE spokeswoman Tanya Domi told a news conference.

Domi also criticized the HDZ and several smaller Bosnian Croat parties for nominating officials already holding elected posts in Bosnia for the Croatian elections. It said they would not be allowed to hold office in both countries.

OSCE is unhappy that Bosnian Croats - most of whom have both Bosnian and Croatian citizenship - can vote in both countries but says that under the current legislation it can do nothing to change the set-up before 2002.

The Bosnian Croats have close links to Zagreb which acted as their patron during and after the Bosnian 1992-95 war. They generally vote en masse for the HDZ.

Three weeks after their parliamentary election Croatians will vote again to choose a successor to late President Franjo Tudjman, who founded and headed the HDZ.

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